(a.k.a Ron's Rants!)
The Scots and Welsh have their flags, of which they're rightly proud, so maybe it's time we English reclaimed ours from the right-wing racists and idiot football supporters!
© Ron Graves, 2008.
Website Updated October 13 2009.
M.E. - A Cause?
A cause, it's been announced, has been found for ME. The news seems to me to have been received with an excess of enthusiasm out of all proportion to its actual importance, and it's widely assumed a cure can't be far behind. This blog post offers a more balanced view.
Update Details for Main Pages
Never spill stain remover, because this can leave an existential crisis on the carpet.
-- Guy Browning.
copyright ©Steve Bell 2004/All Rights Reserved
For newcomers who don't have the inclination to plough through over a year's postings, a "Best of" selection can be found here
Back to my Home Page
Neurofibromatosis Assoc. (UK)
If you're a fan of my blog, it's worth knowing that stuff is often added throughout the day, as things occur to me. Anything that pops into my head in the evening, though, goes in the following day, unless its a update to an existing item that day.
Warning: Read this if you ever visit porn sites - you could come severely unstuck. You can't say I don't provide a public service!!
ďMen never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.Ē
I now have a new blog, from July 19 2009, dedicated entirely to making bread at home, by hand; it's easier than you might think. The emphasis is on bread-making with ME/CFS, though it applies to other disabilities, too.
Bread-making from Ron at Ron's Rants
My WordPress blog is back!!
Because I criticised the security and moderation of a particular website I was subsequently mailbombed by a bunch of fruitcakes whose sanity was, at best, questionable. I was spending half my life fielding insanely abusive comments posted on the blog and it just wasn't worth it, so I renamed it and moved it. You can find it by clicking on the header. Hopefully, they've now lost interest in me, especially as I have removed that particular post.
Apparently, they think I was forced to take it down - I wasn't, I took it down simply because I got fed up with their deranged crap - and if I have the slightest aggro from them, it will go straight back up.
Note: My readers, based on correspondence, seem to be mostly female, and possibly some are youngsters - I've no way have knowing - so, mostly, I try to watch my language here. My alternate blog is much more mainstream, and the language is rather more, er, forthright. Not gratuitously so, but it may offend some of you if I just dropped it in your lap without warning. So I've had a thought, and what I'll do is create a subsidiary blog, Ron's Ego Trip! I'll post notices of what's there on the main blog, then it's up to you whether you want to read it or not. Just be warned it's a bit sweary in parts - not as bad as Gordon Ramsay, though, and he's all over the sodding TV! Follow the link below...
To Ron's Ego Trip!
Posted there: Osteo arthritis and NICE; The School Run; 4,000 years BC - but no Raquel Welch in this one!; Duffy - a triumph of hype over reality?; Wirral Pubs - an occasional series...
Really, though, visiting the real thing is much better, after all, there are far more posts there than I can copy to here, so why not have a look? Who knows, you might like it...
December 10 2008
If you are chronically sick and disabled, here are two vitally important posts from my blog:-
NICE rules - literally...
Sick and disabled? You're screwed...
August 12 2008 (Updated March 31 2009)
As you must have noticed, this blog has been rather neglected of late - there are a number of reasons for this.
My "new" blog at Ron's Rants gets more than 12 times the hits that this one does (as at March 31 2009), and that's not just because it gets the bulk of my output - from the outset, when I ran both blogs side by side, the hit rate of the new one has exceeded the old. There's another, more serious, reason, though.
There is something wrong with my brain - I suspect
I'm in the early stages of some form of dementia, but so far I haven't been
able to summon up the courage to get it checked out. I have to though, and soon.
One of the problems is the detrimental effect on my short-term memory, and the
way it affects my blogging.
Actually, I was wrong about that - I think it's no more than my ME/CFS, plus side-effects from my meds, messing with my head. It's still a problem, though.
If, for example, something on the radio news piques my interest, I can go straight to Ron's Rants and write about it (that page is permanently loaded in my browser, and it's only a mouse-click away). Where I to do it in this blog, I'd have to fire up Dreamweaver first, a process that takes an absurdly long time (relatively), and by the time Dreamweaver has loaded there's a good chance I'll have forgotten what I was going to say.
Essentially, then, using Ron's Rants is easier for me and, for whatever reason, I believe I'm writing better there, too. Not that this website, as a whole, is being neglected, I've posted 8 new pages and updated several others since starting the new blog last November, and that will continue with an upcoming page on my return to vegetarianism, complete with my own recipes.
The future of my blog, though, lies primarily with Ron's Rants ** (which, by the way, got to No. 2 in Google's listings for Ron's Rants blogs - there are a hell of a lot of them, something I hadn't realised when I picked the name! - in a mere 2 months. It also allows me to reach out to a wider audience, and many of my posts are reproduced or cited on quite a few websites and blogs across the world. It also gives me feedback from my readers, something which, despite my occasional requests for feedback, just doesn't happen here.
Any specifically ME-related posts will continue to appear here, as well as in Rants, but I have to play to my strengths, and that means focusing mainly on Ron's Rants.
I do appreciate all the time my readers have spent on this website, as a whole, over the past 4 years (2 years for the blog), but progress is inevitable and nothing is forever, I'm afraid.
I really do think, though, that those of you who click through to Ron's Rants (and not many of you bother to do so, for some reason though, of course, I have no idea how many people have Rants in their browser's favourites), will find it a worthwhile experience. My most popular pages are those relating to benefits and health matters (and these are the ones most cited elsewhere), but there are 164 posts to date (I'm often too unwell to post every day, though that's my aim and, of course, there are some days when nothing interests me), on a wide variety of subjects, and I'm sure a rummage through the archives will repay your time (if you click on a previous month, the entire month's posts are displayed), or you can use the search box (top right), something I don't have here, to search for something specific.
So, come to Ron's Rants soon - I look forward to seeing you there...
** Something that might encourage you to come on over is this. If you Google Polish missile crisis youíll get loads of stuff. The very first item on the list, though (for now, at least Ė tomorrow it could change), is a WordPress link to a post I wrote yesterday, and itís the only one on the subject WordPress are plugging (and I know Iím not the only one of their millions of bloggers to write about it). Iím impressed!
Blowing my own trumpet? Yep, damn right, but to
get to the top of a Google search means that a lot of people like what I'm writing
- you might too...
July 2 2008
I have to say, as an omnivore, that my diet sucks - not least because buying the quality of meat that I actually want is way beyond my budget, and my food bill is getting out of hand anyway. I also need at least one large meal a day, because otherwise my anti-inflammatories make my stomach bleed without food to buffer them. Simultaneously, I also need to watch my calorie intake to lose weight (exercise isnít an option).
The answer to these quandaries is, I think, a return to vegetarianism. I was a veggie for about 15 years, from the mid eighties, before lapsing. This wasnít an ethical decision - my then wife wanted to be a veggie (though I didnít realise at the time it was because she was anorexic), and as I cooked, I decided following suit was no hardship, and it avoided cooking different meals for each of us.
My wife got me to write down my recipes - something Iíd not done before, or since - and I eventually noticed that, without even trying, weíd slipped into a vegan diet. These day, thatís unlikely to happen, as Iím pretty fond of the extraordinarily versatile fromage frais and crème fraîche , (hard to find last time round, as was fresh tofu), which will improve the mouth feel of many veggie dishes, and a veggie diet can use a little fat (as long as you dont go berserk with cheese and eggs).
What tipped the balance was the Observerís restaurant reviewer, Jayn Rayner, being persuaded by his editor to try a vegan diet for a week - and pretty much failing, on the whole, though he did come up with some inspired vegan meals, which tipped the balance for me.
Being a veggie will make life a little more difficult, as some products - fresh tofu, and the more unusual vegetables, like tiny, flavourful, aubergines - mean travelling to Liverpool which, trust me, is no fun at all. The city centre is a giant building site and parking is almost impossible (public transport is out - I canít walk well enough). On the other hand, a lot of stuff is now obtainable online - which simply wasnít an option last time round - and I should be able to find a decent farm shop for veg and fungi.
It would, for me, not be too hard to become a dietary vegan, though I canít be doing with all the rope belts and plastic shoes stuff, by cutting out dairy and eggs. I do get through a lot of milk, for drinking - sooths my drug-abused stomach - but I actually like Alpro soya milk, so thatís not a problem. What is a massive problem is getting Sainsburyís to put the bloody stuff on the shelves - the milk section seems to be stocked up by half-witted trolls. For pityís sake, these oiks are too stupid to make sure they put 6-pint containers of milk, often putting out extra 4-pinters by mistake - Iím sick and tired, over the years, of the repeated arguments over this.
The soya milk problem is a nation-wide Sainsburyís snafu - they re-stock according to zones so, if zone A just needs, say, 4 or 5 packs of butter, but zone F is utterly devoid of soya milk then, bugger it, zone A gets the attention and zone F stays empty until its time comes around. Thatís the explanation I got from the Dairy Products manager at my local Sainsburyís, though Iím forced to wonder if a person without the initiative to over-rule such a mind-bogglingly stupid system when the need arises is the right man for the job.
I had planned, this year, to start making my own sausages, but my flat is just too warm to do that safely - keeping the meat cool during processing is critical, apparently. However, Iíve long harboured a desire to make a vegetarian sausage which is actually a pleasure to eat - those commercially available are truly awful, and veggie haggis is an abomination. I have a recipe - my own - for marinated, deep-fried tofu, which is pretty damn good (the marinade, after removing most of the water from the tofu - otherwise itís like boiled snot - is a mix of mushroom soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce and veg stock, with a little garlic salt and some white wine vinegar), and it would make a good base for a veggie sausage, with minced cooked grains and pulses and a little greenery in the way of fresh herbs, the whole bound with egg. My idea is to use synthetic casings, poach the sausages to set them, then strip off the casings (which arenít veggie, theyíre made from beef collagen), before frying them. The principle will work, though the actual recipe will need tinkering to get the right taste and texture. Iím not aiming for a meat substitute, but it has to taste and feel right. Thatís where commercial veggie sausages fall down. They either try to emulate the look and taste of meat - as with Quorn - or are overtly vegetable. Either way, for me, they all fail miserably on both taste and texture. I think I can do better.
The Lightning Process...
As I've said elsewhere, my view is that this is complete cobblers. This view has recently been born out by experience of the friend of a friend (sorry if that makes it sound anecdotal - it's not, it's just hiding their identities from the fruitcakes), who was "cured" of her ME by the Lightning Process.
Except she wasn't. She subsequently relapsed and was diagnosed not with ME but with Lupus.
I've said this elsewhere, and I'll say it again - No genuine physical illness can ever be cured just by talking about it, or by changing the way one thinks about it. It is simply not possible.
June 22 2008
I've been persuaded - against my better judgement - to create a Facebook page, and much good may it do me! Find me as Ron Graves.
June 14 2008
I have remembered a thing...
A time when dawn never came unbidden, or too early; when snow could never be too deep or crisp; when the jingle of harness and the clink of milk-bottles announced the coming day, in counterpoint to the dawn chorus of birds not yet decimated by chemicals and prairie farming; the clatter-scratch of the knocker-up, as he trod his round, come balmy dew or raging storm.
A time when lust and love ran side by side in my blood, and neither were sated too often; when people were old at 50, and for ever; when summer sprang to full bloom between July and September, and the seasons ran, orderly, in their allotted spans. When autumn gales boomed through the streets, demanding combs and kites, and fish and chips came in yesterday's newspaper, all the better for it, and scratchings were free.
A time, when small children raced in the streets, heedless of a mother's cries to stay close - and never came to harm; when little kids really did hear sleigh-bells at Christmas, which wasn't Xmas; when people were nice to each other, and to themselves - a lost art; when a skinned knee was a major disaster, and major disasters happened to someone else, thousands of miles away, and the world was unimaginably huge.
A time when my blood sang brightly in my ears, lying quietly abed, waiting for sleep, and my bones rode easily within my flesh; when pain was a sudden, and fleeting, thing - here, and goneforgotten in a flash; when the footfalls of midnight mice rang like thunder, in the days before thunder came to sound like the footfalls of mice, and when each new day was joyfully greeted as a friend, to be enjoyed, not cursed as an enemy, to be endured...
I have remembered --- what it was not to be old...
Yeah, OK, I'm only 63, but I'm having a deeply shitty day!
June 10 2008
Royal Bank of Scotland...
If the following email appears in your Inbox, just delete it, it's a scam - no bank will ever ask for your details online in this way:-
Your access to Online Services has been suspended due to a mis-match of pin code and your Security details. To re-register your online account, it will only take few minutes to re-activate your account.
Click on the guide-link below and follow the directions for
instant activation or please call our direct banking team on 08457242 425 to
activate your account and security information.
https://rbs.co.uk/security/customer/logon?youraccounts [links to www.lrbotch.com/updates/digital/verification/default.aspx/index.html]
Important Notice Ė You are strictly advised to match your Security details rightly to avoid digital banking access denial.
I've deactivated the link, so no-one is tempted, but as you can clearly see, it does not link to RBS. Usually, the best clue is that, like me, you don't have an RBS account! These things are sent out by the millions, but they'll still pull in enough of the ill-informed to make a profit if they only catch one or two per million, even though the whole world should know about this scam by now.
May 28, 2008
COPD and DLAÖ
One of the search terms that brought someone to this blog was ďWhat rate DLA will I be entitled to with COPD?), so I thought Iíd try to address the question. Then I realised... read more...
May 27 2008
I've warned about this before, but the problem now seems to have reached plague proportions - I've just deleted 217 of them, from just 3 weeks worth of mail. If you are getting a lot of "Mail delivery notification (Failure)" notices, or some other variation of that wording, they are almost certainly Spam, at best, and may contain viruses at worst. Do NOT open them!
For reasons I've not been able to figure out, I've not been able to upload files to this blog, or website, from my laptop (I think I need to reinstall Windows, which I've been putting off as long as possible, though it could, conceivably, be a failing hard drive). I've been using my spare computer for occasional posts, but I hate using a full-size keyboard after using a laptop for so long - it just slows me down too much. As a result, most of my efforts have gone into my other blog (Ron's Rants), as that's accessed directly online, which makes it much easier.
I've now found a way around the problem (though it still needs to be fixed), by installing an FTP addon to Firefox and, if it works, you'll be reading this.
There are a few posts from Ron's Rant's at Ron's EgoTrip, and as a taster, here's the most recent post from Ron's Rants:-
Arthritis and exerciseÖ
Posted May 25, 2008
Iíve commented previously, and unfavourably, on the current fad for treating arthritis with exercise. I still think it sucks, and what prompted this is that I have raised my exercise levels slightly of late, which has had the effect of causing a substantial increase in my pain levels, culminating in several pretty much sleepless nights - I am not happy!
Iím not just growing into arthritis as I get older, Iíve had osteo arthritis since I was 32, and I can tell you, with absolute certainty, that the only thing youíll get from exercising with arthritis is more pain - I know this because, while Iíve had arthritis, Iíve been a backpacker (the proper kind, not some numb-nuts kid on a gap year break - proper backpackers carry everything they need for their comfort and survival on their back and, above all, we walk; we donít take up space on third-world public transport, travelling in the company of a backpack the size of a small wardrobe!), I was a touring cyclist and a rambler (hiker in the US), too.
Consider, for a moment, the mechanical implications of arthritis. What happens, in either osteo arthritis (OA), or rheumatoid arthritis (RA), though the processes are different, is that the bearing surfaces of the joints are destroyed - to a greater or lesser degree (of the two, RA is the most destructive, as it can destroy the entire joint, but for my purposes, weíll stick with the basics, loss of the bearing surface). As I turned 30, I began to realise that, at the end of a dayís walking (usually 10-15 miles), and long before I reached my destination, I was in agony, and my left hip would seize up to the point of immobility. It took a couple of years to figure out what the problem was, and it turned out to be OA.
Even then, exercise was thought of as a remedy, and I endured physio three times a week for several years before I simply stopped going, as it wasnít having any effect. Well, no beneficial effect anyway - what it did was make me much worse. Iíd go in without pain (remember, this was mainly a problem after a walk in those days), and come out barely mobile.
A little later, on holiday in Austria, I picked up an alpenstock - essentially, a walking stick on steroids, shod with a soft metal tip (soft metal grips rocks, hard metals, like steel, skate off), which allowed me to transfer some of the weight from my hip, and it kept me walking for many years afterwards, though I certainly wasnít pain-free. By the way, if your left leg is the problem, the stick goes in your right hand, though in films and on TV (House is a prime example), the non-disabled actor will always use it on the same side, which is useless; it is more dramatic, though, as it makes it slightly harder to walk, exaggerating the pretend disability. These days, of course, walkers have a wide selection of hiking staffs in varying degrees of sophistication., and very good they are, too. If you have a disability, though, avoid those with ďwalking-stickĒ handles; theyíre too thin and will hurt, and maybe damage, your hand.
Throughout my thirties, I took a lot of anti-inflammatory drugs (still do, when I can, but they damage my stomach), but not a single doctor would accept that I was in as much pain as I said I was. Now in my early sixties, I have OA in the majority of my joints, to some degree.
Anyway, I digress slightly, so letís get back to bearing surfaces. In a car, for example, or any machinery, for that matter, if a bearing starts to wear out, you treat it gently, and get it fixed as soon as you can. In the body, the same logic should prevail, because no amount of exercise is going to make a worn-out joint any less worn out. True, exercise can strengthen the muscles, tendons and ligaments that support a joint, but for the joint itself the result is likely to be more damage, and certainly more pain.
In OA, the bearing surface becomes roughened, and I was told by my physios that one purpose of exercise was to wear away the roughness, which would reduce the pain. That makes sense but - and trust me on this, because Iíve been there and, right now, Iím back there again - the process is agonising. True, if you can get through it (and coping with pain happens at least as much in your head** as with the aid of drugs, Iím afraid), then you will see some, possibly dramatic, improvement.
** No, Iím not saying pain is psychological, it most definitely isnít, but the way a person deals with pain is. After all, pain is entirely subjective - no-one else can know your pain, you own it, but one personís excruciating pain is anotherís bloody nuisance; itís all about perception. That doesnít stop it being real, though. Itís what enables a person to walk to a hospital carrying their severed arm, while someone else will be utterly wiped out by a sprained wrist.
Is exercise worth it, though? Well, only you can decide that, but I would say to Arthritis Care, NICE, and all the other organisations, and doctors and physios, who have adopted the exercise-is-best mantra without question, that if you want us to exercise more, what we want from you, to enable that to happen, is the provision of effective pain control, by which I do NOT mean Paracetamol and Ibuprofen. We want - hell, we are entitled to - much more than that.
Currently, I have DHC Continus - it only took 30 years!! - plus 30/500 Co-codamol and Paracetamol (yes, I know about the risks of combining drugs which contain Paracetamol - Iím not an idiot), and by combining them in ways Iím sure my GP wouldnít approve of, I can get better pain control. In theory, DHC Continus should wreak havoc on my COPD - in practice, the effect is imperceptible, at least for now.
For example, taking 2 60mg DHC Continus and 2 Paracetamol is very effective (and as DHC-C is a sustained release product, you can continue with the Paracetamol throughout the day, subject to the usual limits). On a say when I know I need to be active, I take 1 DHC-C and 2 30/500 Co-codamol (this gives me 60mg sustained-release dihydrocodeine, 60mg codeine tartrate and 1,000mg Paracetamol). Iíve no idea why, but I know that it works very well indeed, and far better than the 2 DHC-C Iím supposed to take of a morning. I also have Naproxen (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug - NSAID), and while itís beneficial, it causes gastric bleeding if I take it without the buffering effect of a substantial meal but, as Iím trying to lose weight, a substantial meal is a thing of the past!
One final plea - is it remotely possible for someone involved
in the development of new drugs to come up with an effective analgesic that
doesnít cause massive constipation? One that didnít shut down my breathing or
erode my gastric mucosa would be nice, too. Just a thoughtÖ
May 3 2008
BT Internet warning...
I have just switched to Tiscali from BT Internet. Not only is the connection (they're both up to 8Mb), measurably faster than BT (some notoriously slow and clunky websites are now behaving normally), my computer is a whole lot faster too - I mean seriously faster.
You get an awful lot of software baggage with BT - which I kept turned off - but it's clear there was also a lot going on behind the scenes that I was unaware of, sapping my system resources and slowing my compute right down. I have 1.25 GB of memory, yet applications like Word would take a long time to open (long, in this context, being 10-15 seconds - over a year that's a lot of wasted time. Now, though, Word opens instantaneously, and Dreamweaver - on which I'm writing this - could take about 30 seconds; now it takes about 5, and it's a huge application.
So, if you are a BT Internet customer (and that includes BT Yahoo), your best bet is to move on. Tiscali, so far, is fine (the problem, below, was just a glitch, amplified by customer "service" numpties).
I was paying BT £40 a month for Internet and phone - with Tiscali I get phone line rental, unlimited free calls, with caller ID, broadband, TV (Freeview plus on demand - their Freeview box, I believe, links to my computer wirelessly), for £35 a month (£25 for the first three months). For me, though, just as valuable is the fact that I now have nothing whatsoever to do with BT!
May 1 2008
Service Pack 3 seems conspicuous by its absence, nor is there any mention of where the hell it's got to. So, right now, I'm tempted to do what I did with SP2, and wait for it to appear on a magazine cover DVD/CD. That way, if I need to install XP (something I usually do every couple of years, when bits start to drop off around the edges, I won't have to down;load the thing all over again.
Keep an eye on the computer magazines when you're shopping - it'll probably appear in a month or two.
April 30 2008
I'm changing my phone and broadband service, but it looks as if the numbskulls at Tiscali have fouled things up, and failed to synchronise the change of phone service with the change of broadband, so I may well be offline for as long as a fortnight, as far as I can tell right now. My BT phone service ends tomorrow, and Tiscali take it over on the 2nd, but my current BT broadband service needs a BT line. So far there's no sign of Tiscali's broadband package arriving.
So far so unimpressed, and I've just fired off a shirty email.
I may be able to get online enough to access my email using my mobe as a modem - the software's all set up, but I've never had need of it, so I don't know if it works. I can also get Tiscali's broadband connection info from their website, and set it up on my old router, which I kept for just-in-case moments like this! I've tried dial-up services but they seem unable to work on my laptop for some reason.
Anyway, if I disappear for a couple of weeks, you know where I've gone.
April 28 2008
Windows XP SP3...
XP Service Pack 3, barring any last-minute glitches, is due for release tomorrow. If you have Windows Update set on fully automatic, and have a slow connection (1 or 2 Mb broadband or, god forbid, dial-up), then you'll be getting a massive download that will tie up your computer and Internet connection for an hour or two. On an 8Mb connection, or better, you should be OK.
My advice, if you have a slow connection (and given the price of fast connections these days I'd have to ask why), is to turn off Windows Update for a while (or just don't accepts the SP3 download), and either order a CD via the Microsoft website, or wait until it appears on a computer magazine cover in a few weeks, as I did with SP2.
If you didn't install SP2, way back in 2004 (and if not, why not?), then that doesn't matter, as SP3 will install anyway. If you don't have SP2 my advice would be to install it ASAP, before installing SP3, after which XP will be good for a few more years. In fact, looking at the horror-show that is Vista (which is a great, bloated, and mostly pointless, monster), this will ensure that XP keeps on going as long as I need it as, unless anything exceptional happens, it will be my last ever Operating System, because I can't afford a new PC, and I wouldn't have one with Vista installed as a gift!
April 23 2008
This is a number which is plaguing a great many people with nuisance calls. If you have caller ID, ignore it; if you use 1471, never call it back if you miss a call.
No-one seems entirely sure who owns this number, if you call it back, you get a recorded message saying it's BT. BT, though, say it's nothing to do with them at all (but BT are lying scumbags - see below, and you can't trust them. The consensus, online, is that it's some kind of scam, making money from the call-backs. Someone else says it's BT's inhouse conference call line.
Whatever the truth, if you answer it and there's somebody there (there often isn't, apparently - it's an auto-dialler), do not reveal any personal information - my advice would be, if you really must, just ask who they are, then hang up; it's clear that no-one legitimate is using that number. If you miss a call, don't bother calling back and, if you have caller ID, just follow my example and just ignore it (of course, it helps if your ring-tone isn't load and annoying!).
April 22 2007
IB50 and ME...
Well, Iíve finished my IB50 and bunged it back in the post. It is, without doubt, the most badly designed form Iíve ever seen, and almost none of it applied top me - Had I filled it in as I was expected to I would have certainly lost my benefit. I donít think the design of the form is accidental; I think itís deliberately designed to make it hard to claim.
Anyway, apart from some simple questions - name and address, DLA payments (which they should know anyway, DLA, that is), I typed eleven pages of information, every segment of which started with some variation on the theme of ďNone of these questions apply to me/intersect with the real world in any meaningful way.Ē The form was an attempt to prevent me providing in-depth information, and I wasnít having any of it.
One thing concerns me, though. They ask for a list of meds, which is fair enough, then they ask for all the side-effects that you experience. So, hands up - how many of you suspect that this information will be used against you, when they tell you that the symptoms of your illness are nothing but side effects, and thus you donít qualify for Incapacity Benefit? And this may very well be the case with illnesses like ME - I mean the allegation, not that the side-effects are to blame!
Iím lucky, despite the number of drugs I need (16), I experience very few side-effects (mind you, as I have never been drug-free since the age of 2, how would I know?), mainly nausea and constipation. Oh, and weight gain from steroids. None of those match any of the symptoms of what ails me but, if they did, Iíd have damned well kept quiet about it. As I said in IB50 timeÖ, these people (the DWP) are NOT on your side. Or mine.
You must always tell the truth, of course, when claiming benefits, but be selective. Tell the version of the truth that is most beneficial to you. Youíre not in court, under oath, you do not have to tell the WHOLE truth! Unless, of course, youíd benefit from that.
I donít doubt that, for criticising their stupid form, Iíll be summoned for a medical - though there is not the slightest justification for that. There is not the slightest chance I shall recover from my COPD, and every chance that it will kill me sooner rather than later.
However, unless they can
come up with a doctor with in-depth experience of ME, COPD, osteo arthritis,
depression and dementia (yep, I seem to be doing a Pratchett - ainít life grand!),
then they can shove it. Iíve fought this battle before, and won. Iíll fight
it again if I have to.
April 17 2008
OK folks, just relax - your vitamin supplements are NOT going to kill you.
This is our old friend meta-analysis again (the technical term for which is "Complete Bollocks"). What happens is that a bunch of bone-idle "researchers", trying to protect their grant money, collect other people's genuine research, run it through a calculator, and decide we're all gonna die. The massive problem with meta-analysis is that it takes no heed at all of the quality of the original research.
Among the research papers they scan (they don't actually read them, all they want are the numbers at the end), let's say there is research funded by homeopaths, trying to show that homeopathy is better than vitamins, or by a fruit cartel wanting show fruit is better - well you get the picture. There's no guarantee that the original research was any good, unbiased, or even a figment of someone's imagination (it happens), but along come the meta-analysts, tot up a load of figures and reach conclusions that are at best dubious and, at worst, total rubbish.
Among the torrent of tripe, this time, is the warning that vitamin A can kill - yeah, we know - that's been known for many years, ever since a group of polar explorers died after living on a diet high in polar bear liver, which is loaded with the stuff. This is not new.
And, of course, almost in the same breath, we're told that vitamin E extends the life of Alzheimer's sufferers - though why they'd want to live longer with that terrible disease is quite beyond me (and I have a vested interest, as I seem to be doing a Terry Pratchett).
So carry on taking your supplements, just don't massively o-d on the things, they're about the only thing that benefits ME. You are NOT going to die. Well, you are, sooner or later, but it won't be your vits that tip you into the darkness..
April 16 2007
BT sucks - big-time!
I have a Direct Debt for my BT Internet and phone for £40 a month. In January and February - with no notice whatsoever, and no reason - it shot up to £58. I raised hell and got it put back down to £40, which left them owing me £36, which the consistently refuse to pay, despite a long and increasingly acrimonious series of emails.
Last month I threatened to sue them - they promptly offered me my money back, so I put the court case on hold (I wasn't bluffing). They offered me a cheque, then said they couldn't issue one; then they said they'd pay me by credit transfer, and reneged on that too.
Yesterday, when I once again threatened to take them to the county court to recover my money, they said that the only way they could issue a cheque was if they cancelled my Direct Debit, at which point I would have to pay the outstanding balance (whatever that may have been). I took that as a threat, to make me back off, so I went straight to the county court website and submitted a claim for the recovery of my money, plus the £25 fee. So now they owe me £61.
Throughout, they have said that they will reduce my next bill by £36, but that's no help to me. If I paid my bill quarterly that would be fine, but I don't, I pay the same amount monthly no matter what happens to my bill so a reduced bill, in a very real sense, does not represent money in any shape of form. BT insist they never repay money, only adjust the bill - I'm not even sure that's legal. If you take faulty good back to a shop - or even goods that you've decided you don't like - you get a refund in cash. They are no longer allowed to issue you a credit note, and this same principal should apply to BT.
Today, I've signed up with Tiscali - I can get unlimited phone calls, line rental, the same level of Net access, plus television (a set-top box for Freeview plus an on-demand service via my computer), for quite a bit less than I'm paying BT - really, there's no contest.
I can't see how I can lose my court case (though you can never guarantee they'll do what you expect them to!), as BT agree they owe me the money - they just refuse to pay it back, so there shouldn't be a problem.
Watch this space...
April 15 2008
In accordance with the above Newsflash, I am introducing a new, more mainstream, blog - Ron's Ego Trip! - as of today. The reason is that my WordPress blog fell foul of a bunch of psycho wimmin (and that's being very polite), who caused so much aggro the easiest way to get rid of them was to move and rename the blog.
Sadly, posting a link to it here would lead the harridans straight back to me, so I shall simply duplicate it in RET! as above, starting with a sort of best-of selection of posts which aren't date sensitive, to give you a taste of it. So that nobody can access it accidentally (and be needlessly horrified!), it will only be accessed from the main blog page, by a link directly below the above caveat.
April 11 2008
I see, from this morning's email, that our old friend the Nigerian Scam has spawned yet another variant. For those of you unfamiliar with the Nigerian Scam (where've you been, it's been around for years?), the widow of a Nigerian tribal chief, or a lawyer, politician, doctor or whatever, has millions of dollars to move out of the country (all legal, 'onest guv!), and they need the use of your bank account to do this. There are several variants - you could be asked to send a couple of thousand pounds to kickstart the process, or they will send you a small amount as a gesture of good faith. At some point they will ask for your bank account details - send it and, in no time at all, your account will be emptied.
It should be obvious to the most moronic that these people are not your friends, yet a terrifying number of otherwise sane people get sucked in every year, because greed is a far stronger force than caution. The scammers know that, of course, and they send out millions of emails every year (hell, every month sometimes), which costs as close to nothing as makes no difference, and if they only net one or two suckers a month, they make a substantial profit (though I do wish anyone luck who wants to hijack my overdraft!!).
The latest version comes, allegedly, from a member of the US Corp of Engineers, in Iraq, who wants to move millions of dollars of (legal), oil money out of the country - and needs your help, for which he will pay you a few million as a commission.
Look, these people are not your friends, OK? None of these people, which originated in Nigeria many years ago, by mail, and it's Nigerians whom you'll mostly find in your Inbox these days, though these days they can come from anywhere, are anything other than thieves, no matter what they claim to be. Wherever they originate these emails are 100% fraud aimed at plundering your bank account.
Never, ever, be tempted, not even if they offer to make a good-faith payment. You might actually get it - mostly you won't - and you might think you're smarter than they are, and can snaffle their cash while protecting your own. Don't even go there - you're dealing with organised crime, not some geek sitting in a back room somewhere, and you will always lose.
You've been warned.
April 6 2007
As many of you will know, I use Mozilla Firefox as my browser, and very good it is too. However I've had a problem with something maxing out my processor usage lately (I'm running 1.25GB of memory, my laptop's maximum, so I'm not short of memory).
If you open the Task Manager (Ctrl+Alt+Del), then minimise it, it will go and live in the System Tray (just by the clock), then you can see what you're processor is doing, as a green bar rises and falls with activity.
When you open an application, it'll briefly go up to 100%, and then drop down again. Likewise with any activity - when I'm typing, up it goes, the moment I stop, it goes right back down. It should not go up to 100% and stay there, but mine has been doing just that. Of course, when it does that, almost nothing works, or does so very slowly.
I did all the usual system clean-up stuff, but nothing worked. Then it dawned on me to look at the Firefox setting, as some websites were having the same effect. I found that it was set to investigate every websiteI visited and compare it to an online database to make sure it was genuine. Give me a break - if I needed my hand holding to that extent I'd still be using Internet Explorer. Now I hadn't set that up, it must have been part of the last upgrade, so I've disabled it and the problem has gone away.
The really weird thing is that the problem persisted even when Firefox was turned off - I turned off everything to try and find the culprit - the only thing that springs to mind is that as I'm permanently online, there may be some persistence of that function even without Firefox running. It makes no sense, but it fits the facts.
Update: The reason it made no sense is because it was wrong! Two other culprits were fouling things up. Google Updater - no idea what it does, beyond hog loads of processing power - and the software for my external hard drive; now, that was weird, because the drive isn't even plugged in, and the software wasn't running, yet it was cluttering up the works big-time. I deleted both and things are fine now. Until the next snafu comes along!
April 5 2008
Alternative fake therapies thoroughly debunked...
Most of you will know my views on deranged therapies that have you dangling bits of metal or crystal about your person, or holding on to the terminals of machines that do nothing but flash a few lights at you - in other words, sympathetic magic in a party frock, pure quackery.
Well in Australia they've taken a close look at a whole raft of these things, and published their findings here. And don't be mislead by the fact that ME isn't mentioned in the article's heading - if they included every illness that is assailed by cranks and frauds there'd be no room for anything else!
The Vega food allergy "diagnostic" nonsense is a classic example of how to bamboozle the gullible, and that gets a very satisfying kicking! At the risk of being uncharitable, it baffles me utterly how people can be suckered by Vega - it's such obvious quackery. Desperation is one thing, anyone believing that holding electrodes while someone put "homeopathic samples" of food into the machine is anything other than a joke is something entirely different. It's scary.